By Edith Asibey and Bruce Trachtenberg
In what can only be described as a cautionary tale for people involved in public interest communications, a recent cover story in the New York Times Magazine describes how the push to encourage women to be screened for breast cancer has done a great job raising awareness about the disease but little to save lives.
Today, there are a lot of communications people wringing their hands about the dearth of traditional media outlets and trying to find new ways to reach out to journalists who are interested in their organizations’ work and mission. Tried-and-true distribution channels are being replaced by a bewildering multiplicity of Internet outlets. Editors and press contacts are now bloggers and Twitter feeds. Press releases can seem like ticker tape floating over a digital parade. The challenge of placing well-edited, well-researched, in-depth material in front of the right audience can feel like trying to outpace an iPad with a manual typewriter.
These changes also provide opportunities for new approaches. Take The Commonwealth Fund, which is investing in several new — what might be called — “media relations 2.0″ strategies. In one case, it is piloting a program to provide content for small-town newspapers. In another effort, it is complementing pitching new journalists with educating them. As a third way, the Fund is partnering with a venerable journalism institution to provide cutting-edge health care reporting online. In each case, the focus is on cultivating and maintaining cadres of professional, trained health care journalists and relationships with traditional, trusted publications. As part of The Commonwealth Fund’s mission to promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency for all, these programs are designed to put well-researched information about health care issues in front of a broad audience.
Earlier this month, the Communications Network and Spitfire Strategies kicked off the Science of Communication series — in-person talks, webcasts and webinars designed to examine communications through a scientific lens. Our first presenter was Dan Kahan, Professor of Law and Psychology at Yale University and a member of the Cultural Cognition Project – a team of scholars who examine how our cultural values shape our beliefs and perceptions of risk.
Guest Post: Katya Andresen
This is a post about “cultural cognition.” I know what you’re thinking. But wait! Don’t stop reading! You need to read this post. If you work for a good cause in this polarized United States, this is vitally important.
At this year’s Fall Conference in Seattle, we’re holding 14 separate breakouts on a range of topics from storytelling to program/communications collaboration to using data effectively. This post previews the session titled Analytics in a Digital Age: Using Data to Drive Strategy for Marketing and Communications. Session presenters are: Anjula Carrier, vice president, marketing and communications, and Vanessa Schnaidt, director of communications, Foundation Center; Roxanne Joffe, communications lens leader, and Melissa Thompson, communications lens manager, The Patterson Foundation.
Guest Post: Melissa Thompson
Data in context is a powerful way to show social good, philanthropic progress and promote funder collaboration. Before a data-driven story can be told, communicators – and their organizations – must understand the role of analytics. It’s about extracting and collecting the “right” data – those gems that are going to engage and inform.
Taking cross-sector cues
Social issues that foundations tackle are often complex. In fact, that may be the understatement of the century. It goes without saying that the application of data in philanthropy can be challenging and a bit daunting.
Rule No. 1? Don’t do it alone. Just as chief marketing officers and chief information officers are learning how to work together in the corporate world, there’s a call for foundations to adopt collaborative cultures where all employees value using data and analytics to inform, engage and drive strategy.